How would a four-day work week affect volunteering?

Volunteering in short week

I read an article this week about a four-day work week study being done in the UK.

It got me thinking about how such a change, if it became standard, would affect the world of volunteering.

One of the most common reasons people give for not volunteering is lack of time.

In many cases, that’s just an excuse. There are, however, a large number of people who would truly love to give time to the causes they care for, but simply can’t find the time. Our regular two-day weekends are filled with errands and housework and with spending much needed time with family. Neither of these can (or should) be sacrificed.

If we had an extra day off work, though, that could be dedicated to volunteering. We would still get our errands done and have precious family time and we would be able to dedicate at least a couple of hours to an organization doing work we believe in. That would not only help the organization, but it would add to the benefits that the volunteer would gain from the extra time off.

What would we, as leaders of volunteers, need to do to take advantage of this opportunity?

First, of course, would be to become aware of which companies are moving to the four-day work week. What kind of people work there? Where do they hang out, and what do they read? Like all marketing, we need to know as much as we can about our target audience so that we can reach out to them effectively.

Second, we need to move quickly. The sooner we can recruit them, the better. The longer that they have a three-day weekend, the more likely it is that they’ll fill it up with other things. Let’s face it, we’re really good at finding things to fill up space, whether that be in a larger home or in our calendar.

Finally, be ready for new volunteers. Ensure your application process is streamlined and easy to navigate. Have your on-boarding procedures and training up-to-date and efficient.

Be clear on what exactly you will have these volunteers doing, and what benefits they will gain from doing them. Look at your management processes; do you have enough supervisors? And so on. All these extra volunteers won’t stick around if they have to jump through a bunch of hoops or if things aren’t run smoothly. If you need help with this, give me a call.

How else would a four-day work week affect your volunteer program?

Well, you may be given an extra day off. How would that affect things? Would the organization need to hire another leader or would you need to work more efficiently to make up for the time off? Would other current staff members need to be trained to supervise volunteers? What would that look like? At this point, there are more questions than answers.

Who knows when, or even if, a four-day work week will become common.

I suspect, though, especially considering the preliminary results of the study mentioned above, that it will certainly become more common as time goes on. If we want to take advantage of this shift, now is the time to start thinking about it. Maybe even planning for it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Karen Knight has provided volunteer recruitment, engagement and training for not-for-profit organizations for more than 25 years.

Her professional life has spanned many industries, working in both the private and public sectors in various leadership positions.

Through her passion for making a difference in the world, she has gained decades of experience in not-for-profits as a leader and a board member.

Karen served in Toastmasters International for more than 25 years, in various roles up to district director, where she was responsible for one of the largest Toastmasters districts in the world.

She oversaw a budget of $250,000 and 300 individual clubs with more than 5,000 members. She had 20 leaders reporting directly to her and another 80 reporting to them—all volunteers.

Karen currently serves as vice-president of the board of directors for the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association.

After many years working and volunteering with not-for-profits, she found many leaders in the sector have difficulty with aspects of volunteer programs, whether in recruiting the right people, assigning those people to roles that both support the organization’s mission and in keeping volunteers enthusiastic.

Using hands-on experience, combined with extensive study and research, she helps solve challenges such as volunteer recruitment, engagement and training for not-for-profit organizations.

Karen Knight can be contacted at [email protected], or through her website at https://karenknight.ca/.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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